December – 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we all wonder what the coming year will bring us here at Olive Tree Farm.

Often our days are spent doing routine tasks. Feeding the animals, cleaning them out, walking goats and being chased by Mr Turkey. The months seem to fly by; we have enjoyed births, and been saddened by deaths. The more animals you have, deaths tend to be more frequent for one reason or another, but it never gets any easier.

This year our most horrific disaster was losing all but one of our rabbits. We still haven’t decided when we will start the breeding again as our concern is making sure the virus is no longer a threat. Ben however, has already spoken to a few of his contacts that supply rabbits and it would seem we were the only ones affected locally, at least from what we know so far. Let’s hope that is the case and over the next couple of months we can start again.

One of our achievements this year was getting the irrigation water organised. It seemed to take an awful long time before we finally had all the tubes and taps in place and the water was eventually turned on at the meter. It was unfortunate that it was during the heat of the summer that all this was done as it meant we had no water for the olive trees and vegetable patches. It was also extremely hot to be digging holes and putting tubes in place, but the lads worked hard and managed to finish it. Many of our neighbours have had a full irrigation system installed, but we decided not to. We have the main tube which we can move around the trees from line to line, filling up the water channels which allows the ducks and geese to be able to have a swim for a few hours. It means Greg has to spend a few hours up at the farm whilst doing it, but the sound of running water is so nice to hear, he actually really enjoys it.

As we move towards the festive season, the food for our Christmas and New Year tables is already being discussed. We have specifically kept hold of a few ducks and cockerels, so we aren’t stuck for birds. We had hoped to have some rabbit, but alas that idea was scuppered. We have a rather feisty Turkey and his wife who now fully grown and would be perfect, but as we were hoping to get eggs and hatch more, we have decided against doing anything with them. And then there is the vegetable situation.

After our ducks escaped a few weeks back and managed to consume every bit of the vegetable patch which was green, we had to start again. So this year, our Christmas veg is more likely to come from the market. Not that there is anything wrong with market veg, most people consume it, but after spending months tending ours, for it end up in a duck, it is rather disappointing.

We do have plenty more planted though, but everything is still far too small and probably will not be anywhere near ready for eating until February or March. This grow your own can on occasions be very frustrating and take an age!

As I write, it is olive picking time! This is the time of year, when we can never decide when to pick. We watch our neighbours to see if they are ready, but no, no-one seemed to be picking. Eventually we had a few days where we could all harvest them and we could book a space at the local press. It was funny, but on the day we started, suddenly, all the neighbours were out in force, so we must have got our timing right. As for the weather, lets see. The air has suddenly cooled and the clouds are building, we have 3 days to collect them all to get to the press, and rain for once we do not need. We aren’t sure yet what the weight will be, it looks good, but possibly not as good as last year. Apparently olive trees have one good year and one not so good, but we should still have plenty for our own press, so we can get our own oil back, and cannot wait to taste the end result.

And before I close I have to tell you all, we did have a lovely surprise a couple of weeks ago, when for the first time, we had a broody hen that had tucked herself away and managed to hatch 5 chicks. Although we have hatched many chicks using the incubator, what a joy it was to see our little red hen with her offspring. Within a couple of hours they were running around with mum and pecking away at chick crumb. Isn’t nature amazing!

So here is to 2018 lets hope it brings great things and from everyone here at Olive Tree Farm, we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.